AGRICULTURAL TEXT-BOOOKS FOR OUR PUBLIC SCHOOLS

  • Published on
    08-Dec-2016

  • View
    214

  • Download
    2

Transcript

  • SCIENCE [N. S. VOL. XLVIII. NO. 1246

    a national advantage; but unless wealth is continuously created we can not make good the huge wastage of resources which the war 'has entailed, and we shall be faced with bank- ruptcy. Much more is, however, required of us. I n the cleansing fires of war, the gold and the dross have been thrown into sharp con- trast. If we are to rebuild our national life on purer and healthier lines, so that it may be worthy of the heroes who have fought and died to save Britain from the greatest peril she has ever encountered, the gold must be cher- ished and the dross must be discarded. The whole future of the empire will be determined by leadership in all classes alike-leadership inspired by self-less motives and based upon patriotism '2nd knowledge. I n the "Wisdom of Solomon " there are

    words which democracy must take to heart if i t is not to prove a disastrous failure. "Neither will I go with consuming envy; for such a man shall have no fellowship with wis- dom. But the multitude of the wise is the welfare of the world."

    SYDENIIAM .---

    AGRICULTURAL TEXT-BOOKS FOR OUR PUBLIC SCHOOLS

    ONEof the results of the activities of the agricultural colleges and the experiment sta-tions is the production of an ~mmense quan- tity of both general and special literature on agriculture. I n this literature we find an in- creasing number of text-books intended for the use in our public schools. This, in itself, may have been influential in stimulating the modern public demand for agricultural in-struction in the public schools of both the country and the towns-a demand which is very sane. It is a matter of common observation of

    those who have had the opportunity to ob-serve, that nowhere in the old world do we find that interest in the soil and its products among the non-farming classes, or as great a respect among them for the tilling and the tiller of the soil as in America. I n many places of Europe, there yet lingers the prej- udice of the city dwcller against the peasant,

    who once was tied to the soil and owned by the owner of the soil, for whose support it had pleased God to allow him to exist. I n this country, i t is a frequent occurrence

    to find business and professional men of the city, not only to pride themselves on their skill and experience as cultivators of the soil, but to carry that skill and experience into aotual operation in their management of rural affairs. EIence, the teaching of agriculture in all of our public schools of both city and country is an increasing demand. T l ~ eexact scope of this teaching and to what classes, or what maturity of pupils i t is to be applied, seems yet to be an unsettled question, judg- ing from the nature of a large part of the many text-books published for this purpose. Some of these text-books seem by their style

    of language to cater to the tended minds of the primary grades, but in their scope and the nature of the topics to be intended as guides for the professional farmer in his practical operations. Agriculture, as a subject in our public schools will fail to educate and inter- tain the minds of the pupils, if heavily burd- ened with dry recipes for increasing the num- ber of dollars, or lectures upon mere physical operations of running a farm. The highly in- teresting biological, chemical and physical principles underlying these operations would, however, not fail to stimulate and elevate the young mind, as adding interest to the opera- tions in themselves. The language, too, in which these subjects are taught, should be in a simple, yet good virile English, and not in the blabber of the baby; for no ambitious boy or girl is willing to stoop to a lower level of in- telligence, but anxious to reach out for a higher. I n several of these text-books cn agriculture,

    we find some very strange incongrueties; for example, matters requiring a well developed intellect and considerable maturity of judg- ment for their comprehension are discussed in a language suitable to the kindergarden tot. One author, in describing the nitrogen-gener- ating bacteria on the roots of the legumes, regrets that he has to use the big word, tubercle; but admonishes his pupils to learn

  • SCIE

    its meaning and how to pronounce it. Yet, in spite of this supposed immaturity of the minds and the vocal organs of his pupils, this same author manages in his book to treat of all living things of importance on the farm, from the bacterium to the horse, and all the operations, from preparing the soil for the crops to the marketing of their products; nor does he stop at that, but devotes much space to rural sociology. Another author who feels "that there is a

    need and a demand for a book that will staizd- ardize seventh and eighth grade agriculture" has produced one in which the "arrangements of chapters follow as closely as possible the farmer's seasonal occupations." I n his pref- ace, this author says: Such topics as the origin, history and import-

    ance of farm crops and animals are about agricul- ture, but such topics as how to produce larger yields, use more prolific vakieties, the use of high grade and pure bred stock, how to feed well and economically, how to improve the soil, how to com- bat enemies and how to choose, plan and manage a farm, are Iiopics that deal with making our agri- culture productive. This is not primarily a book about agriculture; but on productive agriculture. If a book dealing with the various natural

    laws and principles underlying agriculture is a book about agriculture, the author is correct in stating that his book is not about agriculture, nor is it a text-book on agriculture, but a manual giving forth in a dry, and matter of fact way directions for the performance of the numerous operations reqnired in the manage- ment of a farm. The cost in labor and money, and the profits direct and indirect are, of course, the principle lessons to be inculcated by such teaching. More attention to the principles of plant

    and animal life would have added interest and animation to the subject, and more care in the statements concerning facts in plant life would have avoided some obvious blunders. For example, in the table giving the mini- mum, optimum and maximum degrees, Fahr- enheit of the germinating temperature of the ,seeds of vwious farm crops, that for the red ulove~ is .given as 88'-99" min., 99-1110

    NCE

    optim., 111-122" maxim.,-Any girl or boy old enough to have begun the study of pri- mary geography, will know that such a pecul- iarity would banish the red clover from the temperate zone. This book is not the only tex%-book on agriculture written for the public schools that 'is encyclopedic in its scope and character, since a great number have been constructed on the same plan. One author makes the following confession

    in the preface to his book: Agriculture is too complex for all the details to

    be mastered Iby one person. The expert in crops or soils does not possess more than a general knowledge of live stock, fruit growing and dairy- ing. I n the subject of crops, there are those who have specialized in grains, forage crops or grasses. In animal husbahdry, there are the spe- cialists in beef cattle or dairy cattle, specialists in draft horsles or light horses, and specialists in sheep and swine. If a man attempts to speak out of his own knowledge on all the phases of agricul-ture, covered by d school text, the treatment of many of the subjects would be inaccurate and misleading, or else so general as to be of little value, To insure for each branch of the subject an expert, who is iesponsible for a large part of the material in the field of his specialty, the au- thor has organized this material into a logical, teaehablble work on agricultural science and prac- tise. The au tho~ of this book has by the help of

    his experts, whose list of names and speciaI- ties covers a solid page of his preface, com-posed a work that is as impossible to teacE from, for one teaoher, as i t was impossible for the author unaided t o write it all from his omi knowledge: There is no' necessity for com-menting on the difficulty that would confront the pupils in attempting to master such a text. Briefly, it may be said that, in the greater

    number of these "text-books on agriculture for the public schools," the pupils are expected to cover more agricultural subjects, frequeqtly crowded together in an incoherent way and stripped of all philosophical connective tissue, tlian any student in the state agriciiltural collegeq where he has a four year's course with specialists for teachers, supplied with all the equipn1en5 for demonstration. ha a men-

  • --

    486 SCIENCE [N. s.VOL. XLVIII. NO. 1246

    tal nourishment, such a repast, as offered by niany of these books, is both too dry and too bulky for digestion,-nor are many cooks an insurance against " spoiling the broth."

    What is, then, a logical and reasonable scope for the agricultural teaching and the text book in agriculture for our public schools?

    The simplest way out of the dilemma would be to return to the idea of " a book about agriculture" and give up the idea of "pro- ductive agriculture" for our public schools. I n its place, i t would be the abject of the agricultural teacher to make intelligible to his pupils, in a general way, those biological, chemical and physical principles underlying our agricultural operations. Hence, agricul- tural botany and zoology, including a his-tory of the practical phases of the evolution of our " animals and plants under domestication." The practical operations and the history of their evolution should not be lost sight of, but be subordinate to what we might call the scientific aspects, yet diligently drawn upon for the elucidation of these. The subject, thus handled, would not be incomprehensible for one author, or one teacher, or to all the pupils, but be within the scope of the aver2ge human mind.

    A good text book goes far towards making up for the deficiency of the teacher, and a poor text-book goes equally far in hampering the efficiency of the teacher. Not the least consideration in the value of a text book is its style. A book with a faulty style is like a poorly prepared, or badly seasoned meal, i t is taken with a sense of repulsion. There are some of these text books, in which to their small merits are added the demerits of a bad stlye.

    H. NESS HORTICULTURIST,TEXASEXPERIMENTSTATION,

    COLLEGETATI ION, TEXAS

    FRED SILVER PUTNEY

    FREDSILVERPUTNEY,professor of experi-

    mental dairy husbandry a t the Pennsylvania State College, and well known among dairy professors and investigators throughout the United States, died of pneumonia a t his home

    in State College, Pennsylvania, on October 5, 1918.

    Always interested in live stock problems, in recent years he has devoted his energies to teaching and fundamental research along the lines of animal nutrition. Dairy cattle feed- ing problems have been his special interest and his work along these lines is well known. IXe is co-author with Dr. C. W. Larson of the text-book and general reference work, "Dairy Cattle Feeding and Management," end in con- junction with Dr. N. P. Armsby, of the bulletin, " Computation of Dairy Rations," in addition to numerous papers on dairy manage- ment and nutrition.

    Professor Putney was born in Hopkinton, N. I-I., on Nevember 10, 1881. He was gradu-ated from the Concord I-ligh School in 1901 and received the R.S. degree from the New I-Iampshire State College i'n 1905. I n 1908 the Pennsylvanjia State College conferred upon him the degree of Master of Science, and he had completed recently the requirements for his doctorate degree at the university of Wis- consin.

    Professor Putney first went to the Penn- sylvania State College in 1906 where he worked with Dr. H. P. Armsby as an as-sistant in animal nutrition and general experi- mental work until 1908. That year he be- came assistant to Dean F. B. Mumford, of the college of agriculture, University of Mis- souri, at which institution he continued his studies in nutrition towards a doctorate de- gree. From Missouri he went to the Rhode Island State College as professor of animal husbandry and head of the department, and he remained at that institution for several years. I n 1913 he returned to the Pennsyl- vania State College as assistant professor of dairy husbandry, and later became professor of experimental dairy husbandry.

    For the pmt years, Professor Putney has been on leave of absence for advanced study in animal nutrition. This time he spent a t the University of Wisconsin and had just completed the requirements for his doctorate degree. Professor Putney married M i s Bertha Bond of Urbana, Illinois, September